Culinary History 101: Five Bean Salad (and The Picnic Game!)

Did you ever play the picnic game as a child? Well, Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations is hosting a virtual Picnic. In order to participate in the Picnic Game, each blogger chooses a letter and brings a dish that begins with that letter. Would you like to play? Then contact Louise and join in the fun!  (Please note that I am leaving space to list the other picnic dishes as soon as they become available.)

I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing.....

And my letter F: Five Bean Salad

Do you remember this one? It was standard picnic fare when I was a child. Every once in a while when I'm asked to bring a salad to feed a crowd, I turn to this old standby. With Mother's old recipe, you can take short cuts and use some canned veggies. And to keep things fresh, you can make nearly the entire thing with lovely crisp vegetables. I personally use canned kidney and garbanzo beans, but use fresh yellow and green beans, quickly steamed. I use frozen limas, but steam briefly and cool them. Sometimes I add a carrot, or radishes...odds and ends of whatever's left in the vegetable bin. You can also add other kinds of beans like black or cannellini beans, but I am posting Mother's original recipe, cans and all; tweak it any way you like. It all depends on how much of a hurry you're in.
Note: This has to be made a day ahead.

Mother's Five Bean Salad
Easily feeds 15 or more depending on portion size.

1 can slender green beans (or fresh, steamed until crisp-tender)
1 can yellow wax beans (or fresh, steamed until crisp-tender)
1 can small lima beans (I use frozen, thawed and steamed briefly)
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 cup diced celery
sweet red onion rings to taste
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red pepper
2 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 cup water
2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 clove garlic, split, remove before serving

Mix the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved. Cool.
Place all canned beans in a colander to drain the liquids and then place in large bowl. Add any fresh vegetables you have made, then add celery, onions and green pepper and cauliflower. Mix.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Push the split garlic down in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours, stirring several times.